Russia closes down illegal alcohol websites

Poisonous vodkaA clampdown in Russia on online sales of illicit alcohol has resulted in the takedown of more than 150 websites, according local media sources.

The RIA Novosti news agency reports that between November 2015 and March 2016 more than 250 lawsuits were filed by the Russian government seeking orders to shut sites.

There is believed to be an increase in consumers purchasing alcohol online in recent years, in part resulting from progressive excise tax increases and price controls and a series of bans on less-regulated channels.

In addition to online sales, prohibitions have been introduced on alcohol sales through street stalls/kiosks, as well as bans on alcohol sales in many public places and on night-time sales, according to Euromonitor.

Illegal sales represent a massive chunk of Russia's total alcohol market - estimated to account for around half of vodka sales, it says.

Last November, dozens of hospitalizations and more than 10 deaths resulting from the consumption of alcohol purchased over the Internet - including fake Jack Daniels whiskey - prompted the authorities in Russia to take action.

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